News

Peck Attends ALI Annual Meeting

May 21st, 2018

    CCL President Robert S. Peck attended the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Law Institute in Washington, DC on May 21-22. At the meeting, members debated and approved new Restatements of the Law on Liability Insurance and Intentional Torts to Persons. In addition, the ALI made further progress on the Restatement on tort liability for economic harm. THE ALI publishes the final restatements, which are very influential in the states in how the law might be modernized. ALI members are experienced lawyers, judges, and academics.

     In addition to the work of the ALI, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was awarded the Henry J. Friendly Medal for her contributions to the law. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., a former law clerk to Judge Friendly, presented the medal to Justice Ginsburg. At an evening session, attendees were treated to a conversation between Justice Elena Kagan and former Solicitor General Paul Clement about the workings of the Solicitor General's office, moderated by Duke law dean David Levi.

CCL's Robert Peck Attends AAJ Leaders Forum Retreat in Ireland

May 18th, 2018

     CCL's Robert S. Peck attended the Annual Leaders Forum Retreat held by the American Association for Justice in Einskerry, County Wicklow, Ireland. The retreat, at which Peck has served as a speaker in the past, featured prominent Irish legal figures speaking about their civil justice system. 

CCL President Attends ABA Amicus Committee Meeting

April 30th, 2018

  As a member of the committee, CCL President Robert S. Peck attended a rare meeting of the ABA Amicus Curiae Committee in Washington, DC, where the Committee discussed plans to streamline its process and continue to assure quality briefing. ABA President Hillary Bass attended the meeting and was joined at the committee dinner by ABA President-elect Robert Carlson.

CCL President Attends AAJ Meetings

April 21st, 2018

      CCL President Robert S. Peck participated in the Spring meetings of the American Association for Justice (AAJ). As a member of the Legal Affairs Committee, Peck heard reports about AAJ's activities to support access to the courts and the right to trial by jury. He gave his own report on some of the litigation developments of particular interest to AAJ members. Among items in his report were recent victories about limiting the use of discovery to litigation and not lobbying purposes, a Minnesota Court of Appeals decision that reversed the dismissal of a complaint in a medical device case on preemption grounds, and a trial court ruling that New Mexico's medical malpractice cap violates jury-trial rights.

      Peck also attended the AAJ Board of Governors meeting as a guest.

CCL Seeks Discovery Stay in Griffen v. Supreme Court of Arkansas

March 22nd, 2018

     Representing the Arkansas Supreme Court, its chief justice, and two other justices of that court, CCL filed a motion for a temporary stay of discovery pending resolution of its motion to dismiss the case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. The state supreme court and each of its justices were sued by a state trial court judge, alleging that his civil rights were violated when the high court ordered he be recused. The plaintiff-judge had participated in a protest and written a blog post related to a case then pending before him. The Supreme Court, upon a motion from the state attorney general, ordered the judge recused in that case and all similar matters.

     CCL filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Eleventh Amendment foreclosed suit against the state supreme court in federal court without its consent. Moreover, the lawsuit failed to state a claim because, among other things, the judge had no property right in hearing particular cases. The due process rights of the litigants to a fair tribunal that has not pre-judged the matter predominated over any right the judge might claim. Similar motions to dismiss were filed by other counsel on behalf of the remaining justices. 

     The plaintiff-judge has made clear that he seeks discovery that will delve into the internal deliberations of the court on the recusal order. The motion to stay, filed on behalf of all defendants, asks that the dismissal motions be determined before discovery commences.

Ending Johnson & Johnson’s Bid to Avoid Liability, U.S. Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in Children’s Motrin Case

January 19th, 2016

The U.S. Supreme Court today ended pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson & Johnson’s bid to avoid liability for failing to warn doctors and parents that the appearance of redness, rashes or blisters after taking Children’s Motrin can lead to serious consequences. In 2003, a feverish seven-year-old Sammie Reckis was administered Children’s Mortin by her father. When she received no relief, her pediatrician administered another dose. Sammie was taken to the hospital after blisters began to appear, where yet another dose was given. Blisters soon appeared all over her body, and she was diagnosed with Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN), a life-threatening skin disorder that is usually fatal. The top layer of her skin began drying and sloughing off in sheets and, to ease her pain, Sammie was placed into a medically induced coma. She suffered heart and liver failure, a stroke, an aneurysm, and a cranial hemorrhage. She is now a tremendously underweight, blind adult. A jury found Johnson & Johnson liable and set compensation for Sammie and her family at $63 million.

Johnson & Johnson, after losing in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case, claiming that the state courts ignored clear evidence that the Food & Drug Administration would have forbidden it from placing a warning about redness, rash and blisters on their label and arguing that the Massachusetts decision conflicted with one from the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. In opposition on behalf of the plaintiffs, CCL argued that not only did not clear evidence exist that the FDA would prosecute Johnson & Johnson for providing a warning that would have spared Sammie her nightmare, but that subsequent FDA actions requiring warnings about redness, rashes and blisters on the label supported the plaintiffs. Moreover, the claimed conflict between appellate courts was an imagined one, given that the essential holdings of the two courts were the same.

CCL’s Robert S. Peck served as counsel of record on the Supreme Court brief, where he worked with Michael Bogdanow, Leo Boyle, Brad Henry, and Victoria Santoro of Boston’s Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow, P.C.

CCL Seeks Invalidation of Florida Law Extending “Sovereign Immunity” to Private University Medical Faculty

January 15th, 2016

In a brief in support of summary judgment filed in a Florida trial court, CCL joined Florida lawyers in seeking invalidation of a Florida statute that extends the state’s immunities from lawsuits to the medical faculty of a private university when practicing medicine at Jackson Memorial Hospital, which is operated by a county agency. The declaratory judgment action argues that the legislature lacked authority to provide sovereign immunity to a private party and that the extension violates a variety of patients’ constitutional rights.

The disputed statute was enacted in 2011 to immunize medical faculty at the University of Miami from malpractice liability when scheduling their patients at Jackson. The immunity does not cover the faculty when they practice at the University of Miami hospital across the street from Jackson. In the immunized cases, a patient injured through malpractice must sue the State of Florida, whose liability is limited by the state tort claims act. Any liability assessed must then be reimbursed by the university.

The plaintiff’s summary judgment brief, filed January 15, argues that the Florida Constitution only authorizes the legislature to waive immunity, not extend it, constitutes impermissible special legislation, and prohibits the state from lending its credit to a private party. In addition, the brief contends that the extension of immunity violates the patient’s access to courts, jury trial, equal protection and due process rights. CCL’s Robert S. Peck represents the plaintiffs, along with Neal A. Roth and Rachel Furst of Grossman Roth, P.A.

Peck Argues Against Motion to Dismiss Miami Gardens Fair Housing Case

January 8th, 2016

In a hearing held in the federal district court in Miami, CCL President Robert S. Peck argued that there were no grounds to dismiss the complaint filed by the City of Miami Gardens, Florida against Wells Fargo Bank over its minority mortgage lending practices. Wells Fargo argued that the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Texas Dep’t of Hous. & Cmty. Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2507, 2521 (2015), had imposed a heightened pleading standard in disparate-impact claims brought under the Fair Housing Act. Peck denied that any additional pleading requirements were imposed and pointed out that the Supreme Court had previously chastised the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit for attempting to impose one. Instead, as the Supreme Court’s decisions consistently hold that the plain and simple pleading required by Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure govern.

CCL Files Opening Brief in LA Fair Housing Appeal

January 6th, 2016

Arguing that the District Court applied the wrong standard, which led to the wrong approach, CCL, representing the City of Los Angeles, filed the opening brief in a case where the City has sought compensation from Wells Fargo Bank for lost tax revenues and for remediation costs as a result of the a practice of steering minority borrowers to more expensive and riskier loans than they were eligible for, resulting in foreclosures and other problems. A federal district court granted the bank summary judgment because it held that the government-insured and high-interest loans offered to these borrowers during the prior two years were not inherently discriminatory and therefore did not satisfy the statute of limitations.

The brief, largely written by CCL President Robert S. Peck, argued that the City’s claims were not tied to specific characteristics of particular loan categories, but to the practice of directing minorities to higher cost loans. As in a 2015 decision of the Eleventh Circuit won by CCL for the City of Miami, the bank’s switch from one type of loan to another did not render the practice “any less ‘continuing.’”

In addition to CCL, other counsel on the brief include Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California-Irvine law school, Joel Liberson of Tare Resources, the Hagens Berman law firm, and Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer.

Challenge to Florida Immunity Statute Survives Motion to Dismiss

December 9th, 2015

A state circuit court in Miami has denied the University of Miami Hospital’s motion to dismiss a declaratory judgment action challenging a Florida law that gives governmental immunity to private hospitals designated as teaching hospitals. The December 9 ruling rejected arguments that the complaint, filed August 11, 2015, was deficient. The hospital was ordered to answer the complaint.

In the case, Vallecillo v. Ehammady, CCL’s Robert S. Peck is working with Neal Roth of the Miami law firm of Grossman Roth.